Thursday, June 09, 2016

Cruising the Web

Stuart Taylor explains
why Trump's attack on Judge Curiel is "the most dangerous thing he's done." Trump's argument that a judge of Mexican descent shouldn't be allowed to rule on any case involving Trump would create a very dangerous precedent for our entire judicial system.
If every judge suspected of having a strong, race-based—or non-race-based—disagreement with a litigant's politics, or a strong dislike of the litigant, were disqualified, there would be few left to decide the most important cases.

African-American judges and white judges alike would be barred from hearing racial-discrimination lawsuits brought by blacks, or by whites, because the parties could always speculate that the judges' decisions would be skewed by sympathy for members of their own groups. Neither Roman Catholic judges nor female judges could sit in abortion cases. Jewish judges would be disqualified from lawsuits adverse to Israel. And so on.
Taylor also worries that by putting his own "raw financial and political self-interest above the law and the national interest" indicates Trump's willingness to defy court orders and the rule of law if he were president.
Our current expectation that the president will and should enforce even court decisions that he does not like was cemented by Dwight Eisenhower in a climactic school desegregation case. Eisenhower thought (although he did not publicly say) that the desegregation decisions transgressed the limits on the Supreme Court's constitutional powers. But in 1957, when white mobs and the Arkansas governor tried to prevent black children from entering Little Rock High School, Eisenhower sent troops to escort the children and enforce the desegregation decree.

What would a President Trump have done in 1957? Someone should ask Trump—and also ask him whether, as president, he would obey a hypothetical Supreme Court decision striking down a Trump order barring Muslims from entering the country. Or perhaps a decision finding that Trump University was at fault and restitution must be paid.

Although President Obama and others have made intemperate rhetorical attacks on debatable Supreme Court rulings affecting important national policies, no major political figure in memory has attacked a judge to protect his personal stake in a garden-variety legal case of no importance to the national interest.

Andrew McCarthy believes that he has discerned the real reason why Trump went after the judge - not because he is truly questioning the impartiality of Judge Curiel, but because Trump hopes to preemptively "draw the sting of disclosures regarding the civil fraud case involving “Trump University."
Trump verbally attacked Curiel not in court but at a political rally. The distinction, we shall see, is significant.

In the court case, in which Curiel presides and the putative GOP presidential nominee is a defendant, plaintiffs allege that Trump U was a fraudulent scheme. The trial has now been postponed until after the election, meaning that for the next five months, unflattering disclosures of evidence against Trump will be selectively leaked in drip, drip, drip fashion – just like disclosures in the Clinton email caper, a far more serious matter, but one the Democrat-media complex hopes its Trump U coverage will nullify.

Trump has vowed not to settle the case. Maybe that’s because he really believes the case is nonsense. Or maybe, just maybe, he frets that settling would (a) be spun as an admission of guilt, and (b) undermine his campaign’s portrayal of Trump as a tough-as-nails fighter who never quits, hits his detractors back twice as hard, and always wins.

Bottom line: Trump has a political need to discredit the Trump U case. He does not have an actual legal claim of judicial bias; instead, he finds it politically expedient to attack the judge. This is far from unheard of in high-profile cases in which a celebrity litigant believes there will inevitably be negative rulings. The point is to get ahead of the news curve in order to shape the public’s perception of the case and minimize the reputational damage.
In a way this is the same tactic that Hillary Clinton uses to defuse the drip, drip, drip of evidence painting her and her husband as sleazy operators who have, for their entire political careers, used power to benefit themselves both financially and politically. That's what her claims of a vast right-wing conspiracy were all about. That is why she constantly refers to the partisan motives of those who attack her. If she can get people to believe that any allegation of impropriety against her and Bill is simply a matter of Republican efforts to bring them down then people may choose to ignore the evidence of Clinton improper or even illegal behavior. Sure, paint Ken Starr as a Puritanical Inspector Javert out to get Bill for his private sexual behavior and people will ignore the fact that Bill admitted to perjury under oath and suborning perjury from a witness in a case that was about sexual harassment by a sitting governor against a lowly worker. It was a despicable tactic when the Clintons used it and it is a despicable tactic today.

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Meanwhile, Jim Geraghty has researched the judicial decisions made by Judge Gonzalo Curiel and discovered that he is actually an admirable record which conservatives should admire. When he was being questioned by the Senate Judiciary Committee he answered a question posed by Senator Grassley based on President Obama's preferred ideology for a judge by saying that “Empathy does not play a role in the judicial process.” Unlike the liberals on the Supreme Court and Anthony Kennedy, he doesn't believe that judges should look to foreign judges for advice on how to settle cases in the United States. He has fought against Mexican drug cartels as a U.S. attorney and had to spend a year in hiding protected by U.S. Marshals. I suspect that a man who has done that and lived to tell the tale can withstand Trump's political posturing.

In Hillary Clinton's victory speech on Tuesday night, she made sure to connect her moment as the woman to be the nominee of a major party to the history of women fighting for rights. She gave credit to the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848 as
where a small but determined group of women and men came together with the idea that women deserved equal rights, and they set it forth in something called the Declaration of Sentiments, and it was first time in human history that that kind of declaration occurred. So we all owe so much to those who came before, and tonight belongs to all of you.
Let me provide a little history lesson to Hillary Clinton. Actually, that wasn't the first time in history a group of women made such a declaration. In 1791 a French woman, the playwright Olympe de Gouges wrote her own version of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, by mirroring the wording in the original in what she titled the Declaration of the Rights of Women. You can do a line by line comparison of the two documents and see how Gouges used the 1789 declaration as the model and just inserted the demands of women to be treated equally. Following Gouges's example, the women at the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention took the wording of the Declaration of Independence and added in the rights of women to be treated equally to men in their Declaration of Sentiments. While historians like to point to the Seneca Falls Convention as an important landmark in women's history, news of the convention was met mostly with ridicule and satire. Sadly, for Olympe de Gouges, her efforts entailed much more danger than what Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott and other women at Seneca Falls risked. She was arrested during the Terror, tried for treason and then guillotined. Frenchwomen would have to wait a long time to get the sorts of rights that Olympe de Gouge was asking for. They didn't get the right to vote until 1944. But I guess that giving credit to a courageous Frenchwoman during the French Revolution just wouldn't resonate as much as a hyperbolic statement about the Seneca Falls Declaration of Sentiments.

Ann Althouse has a quibble
with the metaphor that Hillary and feminists keep using about the "glass ceiling" that women purportedly keep bumping up against.
The metaphor that won't go away. Broken ceilings don't sound inherently good, and I wonder how many people remember (if they ever knew) why, in that metaphor, breaking part of a building is supposed to be good.
Hillary is campaigning against ceilings, saying last night, "This campaign is about making sure there are no ceilings." Althouse is right - there is something rather catastrophic sounding about that metaphor.

Seth Lipsky explains
how Hillary Clinton's policy actions and proposals betray that principles enunciated in the Declaration of Sentiments at Seneca Falls.
After all, if Clinton believes in the principles laid down at Seneca Falls, what’s she doing supporting the appeasement of the ayatollahs in Iran, where the rights of women are so restricted they can’t watch sports?

If Hillary Clinton believes in Seneca Falls, what is the Clinton Foundation doing raising so many millions of dollars from medieval countries like Saudi Arabia, where women are treated worse than ever occurred here?

There’s a lot for Republicans to work with, too.

“He has taken from her all right in property, even to the wages she earns,” the Sentiments say. If only modern progressives grasped the link between liberty and property.

The sentiments say that “he has endeavored, in every way that he could, to destroy her confidence in her own powers, to lessen her self-respect, and to make her willing to lead a dependent and abject life.”

What about the dependency being fostered on the liberal plantation of welfare-state Democratic Party politics? After all, can it not be that what is bad for the goose is also bad for the gander?

And what about religion? The penultimate paragraph of the Sentiments says: “He has usurped the prerogative of Jehovah himself, claiming it as his right to assign for her a sphere of action, when that belongs to her conscience and her God.”

How does that fit with modern liberalism? It insists on making secular government the arbiter of questions once left to women and their God. Even a group of nuns has had to go to the Supreme Court thrice to avoid the ObamaCare birth-control mandate.

The New York Daily News reminds us that Hillary Clinton is not the first female presidential nominee, just the first one from a major party.

One woman whom Hillary hasn't won over is Roseanne Barr who says she likes Trump over Hillary. I guess Trump likes Roseanne better than Rosie O'Donnell. I don't care what either of them think, but Roseanne is a socialist supporter of Bernie. Maybe there's hope yet for Trump's efforts to win over disappointed Bernie supporters. Roseanne Barr actually ran for president for the Peace and Freedom Party in 2012 and got about 50,000 votes nationwide. Imagine that. There are people who actually voted for Roseanne Barr instead of Barack Obama.

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The Associated Press is reporting on how Hillary Clinton's endangered CIA personnel.
The names of CIA personnel could have been compromised not only by hackers who may have penetrated Hillary Clinton's private computer server or the State Department system, but also by the release itself of tens of thousands of her emails, security experts say.

Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, turned over to the State Department 55,000 emails from her private server that were sent or received when she was secretary of state. Some contained information that has since been deemed classified, and those were redacted for public release with notations for the reason of the censorship.

At least 47 of the emails contain the notation "B3 CIA PERS/ORG," which indicates the material referred to CIA personnel or matters related to the agency. And because both Clinton's server and the State Department systems were vulnerable to hacking, the perpetrators could have those original emails, and now the publicly released, redacted versions showing exactly which sections refer to CIA personnel.

"Start with the entirely plausible view that foreign intelligence services discovered and rifled Hillary Clinton's server," said Stewart Baker, a Washington lawyer who spent more than three years as an assistant secretary of the Homeland Security Department and is former legal counsel for the National Security Agency.

If so, those infiltrators would have copies of all her emails with the names not flagged as being linked to the agency.
In the process of publicly releasing the emails, however, classification experts seem to have inadvertently provided a key to anyone who has the originals. By redacting names associated with the CIA and using the "B3 CIA PERS/ORG" exemption as the reason, "Presto — the CIA names just fall off the page," Baker said.
As Russ Read of the Daily Caller reminds us that people have gone to jail for breaking the law that Clinton violated.
John Schindler, a former NSA operative and current columnist for the Observer, called this revelation back in February, noting that interviews he had done with intelligence officials revealed that Clinton’s actions had put CIA officials at risk.

“Discussions with Intelligence Community officials have revealed that Ms. Clinton’s ‘unclassified’ emails included Holy Grail items of American espionage such as the true names of Central Intelligence Agency intelligence officers serving overseas under cover,” wrote Schindler.

Should foreign governments discover the true names of non-official cover operatives, the results could be predictably dire for U.S. intelligence capabilities.

“People really go to jail for breaking this law,” he continued, citing the case of John Kiriakou, a CIA officer who spent two years in prison for divulging classified information that exposed a CIA colleague who was operating under cover.

Thomas Sowell uses lessons from history to explain why a welfare state is damaging to the character of a nation. He is responding to proposals here and elsewhere for a government-provided income.
In 16th and 17th century Spain — its “golden age” — the windfall gain was gold and silver looted by the ton from Spanish colonies in the Western Hemisphere. This enabled Spain to survive without having to develop the skills, the sciences, or the work ethic of other countries in Western Europe.

Spain could buy what it wanted from other nations with all the gold and silver taken from its colonies. As a Spaniard of that era proudly put it, “Everyone serves Spain and Spain serves no one.”

What this meant in practical terms was that other countries developed the skills, the knowledge, the self-discipline, and other forms of human capital that Spain did not have to develop, since it could receive the tangible products of this human capital from other countries.

But once the windfall gains from its colonies were gone, Spain became, and remained, one of the poorest countries in Western Europe. Worse, the disdainful attitudes toward productive work that developed during the centuries of Spain’s “golden age” became a negative legacy to future generations, in both Spain itself and in its overseas offshoot societies in Latin America.

In Saudi Arabia today, the great windfall gain is its vast petroleum reserve. This has spawned both a fabulously wealthy ruling elite and a heavily subsidized general population in which many have become disdainful of work. The net result has been a work force in which foreigners literally outnumber Saudis.

Some welfare states’ windfall gains have enabled a large segment of their own citizens to live in subsidized idleness while many jobs stigmatized as “menial” are taken over by foreigners. Often these initially poor foreigners rise up the economic scale, while the subsidized domestic poor fail to rise.

Do we really want more of that?

British historian Arnold Toynbee proposed the “challenge and response” thesis that human beings advance when there are challenges they must meet. The welfare state removes challenges — and has produced many social retrogressions.

The Washington Times reports
on the egregious lengths that California politicians go to to exempt themselves from the laws that they pass.
The California state Senate voted 28-8 Wednesday to exempt itself from the pointless gun-control laws that apply to the rest of the populace. Legislators apparently think they alone are worthy to pack heat on the streets for personal protection, and the masses ought to wait until the police arrive.

This is just one of many bills Golden State politicians used this legislative session to set themselves apart from the little people, the ones who pay their inflated salaries. Annual compensation for legislators averages about $140,000, not counting luxurious perks such as taxpayer-funded cars and free gasoline. By comparison, the average Californian earns $50,000 a year, and the unemployment rate is 11.9 percent - far above the national average. Exact salaries for state assemblymen and senators are obscured by the use of a “per diem” payment scheme that shelters a significant chunk of income from taxation.

Attempts by a handful of reformers to require politicians to provide a full annual disclosure of the benefits received from the public treasury have been rebuffed.
They also have exempted themselves from paying red-light-camera tickets and not pay tolls when driving in California.

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Rich Lowry ridicules
the tender flowers at Yale who are upset about English majors being required to take a class on Major English Poets. Apparently, these delicate minds can't cope with spending a year discussing great writers unless those writers are parceled out by race, gender, ethnicity, and sexual preferences.
This is a variation on the widespread belief on campus that unwelcome speech is tantamount to a physical threat. In this case, the speech happens to be some of the most eloquent words written in the English language. One can only pity the exceedingly fragile sensibility it takes to feel assaulted by, say, “Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey.”

The petition’s implicit contention is that the major poets are too circumscribed by their race and gender to speak to today’s socially aware students, when, in point of fact, it is the students who are too blinkered by race and gender to marvel at great works of art.

It takes a deeply impoverished imagination to read Shakespeare and regard him simply as an agent of the patriarchy. It is safe to say that the bard is better at expressing what it is like to be a teenage girl in love, or a woman disguised as a man who falls for a man, or a bloody tyrant than almost every actual teenage girl in love, woman disguised as a man, or bloody tyrant.

The poet Maya Angelou said in a lecture once that as a child she thought, “Shakespeare must be a black girl.” It was because, growing up in the Jim Crow South, a victim of unspeakable abuse, Sonnet 29 spoke so powerfully to her. (“When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes, / I all alone beweep my outcast state, / And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries, / And look upon myself and curse my fate.”)

Yale’s petitioners must consider Toni Morrison a traitor to her race and gender. She had an argument with a theater director years ago in which she defended Othello, and she went on to write a production based on Desdemona, the play’s doomed female character. Or how about Derek Walcott, whom a Yale professor sympathetic to the petitioners suggests adding to the required course? He told The Guardian newspaper a few years ago that it would be absurd to say, “Don’t read Shakespeare because he was white.”

Anyone reading widely in the English canon will encounter supremely talented female, black, and gay writers. In fact, many other Yale courses feature them. But the creative stream began with so-called dead white males. It is their genius that their words transcend their time and place and have given us phrases, characters, and stories that are still vital today.
There are courses they could take on writers of varying races, genders, and backgrounds if that is their principal qualification for reading a work of literature. Lowry recommends that those students who don't want to learn about the writers whose works helped to form the English language that they just choose another major. But that wouldn't work, because those people who cherish their victimhood would be sure to find something to complain about in whatever major they chose. Perhaps there would be too many dead white scientists or mathematicians in those courses. Let's face it - throughout much of history men had privileged positions in societies around the world. So if you're studying contributions throughout history in any field, you're going to be studying what men did. And a lot of those men were white men. So suck it up and concentrate on what you can learn without regard to what diversity box you can slot people into.

Steven Hayward reports on what he rightly calls the "epic correction of the decade." You might remember reading about a 2012 political science study that purported to find that conservative ideology was correlated with "tough-mindedness and authoritarianism" while a liberal ideology was correlated with what they call "Social Desirability" or having a personality who wants to get along with other. Of course, liberals absolutely loved this story. But now they've issued this correction:
The authors regret that there is an error in the published version of “Correlation not Causation: The Relationship between Personality Traits and Political Ideologies” American Journal of Political Science 56 (1), 34–51. The interpretation of the coding of the political attitude items in the descriptive and preliminary analyses portion of the manuscript was exactly reversed.
Got that? They mucked up their data and it turns out that authoritarianism is correlated with being a liberal and the desire to get along with other actually correlates with conservatives. As Hayward writes, this should
come as no surprise to any conservative who pays attention to authoritarian liberalism. And people higher in Social Desirability will turn out to be conservatives, which is also congruent with the many simpler survey findings that conservatives are happier than liberals.
Apparently, this study had been cited at "extremely high" rates and stirred much more notice than ordinary research in political science does. I'm sure that confirmation bias explains why so many people accepted these results and used them. It's just what they already thought about conservatives and liberals. And I bet that this retraction and flipping of the results will be reported all over the media and throughout the field of political science as researchers rush to change their own studies. Yeah, right.

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